Do The Things You Don't Want To Do

Photo via  Flickr

Photo via Flickr

I'm a big fan of to-do lists. I use them as an external memory bank, storing up all of those tasks that are important, but I'm unable to work on at that moment.

Need to make changes to my insurance plan in a few weeks? On the to-do list.

Need to call someone back when I'm not in a meeting? On the to-do list.

Need to change the cat's litter every week? On the to-do list.

It's super helpful to let something else remember everything that floats through my head. However, every few weeks a task is added to the to-do list and it just stays there forever. I look at it and think "I really don't want to do deal with that right now" and easily find something more appealing to do.

I leave it to sit there and build up along with the other things I don't want to do.

Recently, I was struck by a moment of insight when I looked at that growing list of yet-to-be-done taks. Those tasks, the ones that just seem to never go away, usually fall into one of two buckets. Either they are silly annoying things that are poorly defined and aren't truly important enough to keep bugging me. Or they are the most frustrating, scariest, important tasks that would actually make a difference in your life.

Those tasks in the second bucket are the ones that would move you forward an inch if you gave them the time of day. They are the ones that when you actually do feel like you've made strides towards goals of growing and developing as a professional.

I can't help but look at my to-do list and think to myself "If I had done all of those things that I set out to do, when I set out to do them, I'd be way ahead of where I am today."

If you use to-do lists and find these tasks that tend to remain, what's the next step in completing just one of them? Is it getting new/more information? Contacting someone? Making headway on a piece of work?

What's stopping you from doing right now? If not now, can you take action in the next few hours?

If you can answer those questions truthfully, you'll be well on your way to seeing that those tasks are really not as bad as they seem. And once you get going, momentum will pick up and keep you going all the way to completion.

- Ryan